letters to the editor 88.
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Give me a 'nobody'
Sir, - Anshel Pfeffer claims that the Likud, Shinui, and the NRP "are all in critical - if not terminal - decline" because they have placed three "political nobodies" high on their respective Knesset lists ("Age of the common politician?" January 15).
The fact that Moshe Kahalon is a car-stereo salesman, Ron Lowenthal a Tel Aviv disc-jockey and Eli Gabbay an ex-parliamentarian hardly disqualifies them from entering, or reentering, national politics. Whether they are of good character and have demonstrated civic responsibility is surely what matters.
It so happens that I know and admire "the grayer than gray" Eli Gabbay, a far from common politician, whose Hiba Association awards scholarships to underprivileged youngsters. Credit for the successful integration of non-Ashkenazi pupils in what were once elitist yeshiva high schools is also due to this particular "nonentity." In the forthcoming election I will vote for those who best represent the Jewish values and civic virtues that I cherish, journalists' prejudices notwithstanding.
GABRIEL A. SIVAN
Messianic Right is wrong
Sir, - Re "A question for President Bush" (August 17): If I understand Caroline Glick correctly, her objection is not to the US "meddling" in Israeli elections but to "left-wing candidates," which now include Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon. I suppose all others from the Likud to the extreme right wing would be perfectly legitimate.
The reality is that no international body or country sees things as Ms. Glick does. They support a policy they believe will at least try and manage, if not end, the conflict. Even though territorial concessions will not stop terror, neither will expanded settlements, which are not accepted by the international community, the US included.
Your columnist declares in every column she writes that any concession brings only terror; from this one can assume that prior to these so-called concessions all was quiet. But that is nonsense.
There is no solution other than separation, a policy supported by the majority of Israelis as well as by the international community, which includes the US. As our most important and essential allies the Americans are pursuing a policy they assume also serves their interests - which do not coincide with those of the messianic Right.
Sir, - Contrary to the argument presented by Caroline Glick, the Bush administration is not trying in any way to force the Israelis to compromise on Israel's security issues or cave in to terrorism. Ariel Sharon, the architect of the settlements, dismantled them when he became prime minister. He believed that carrying responsibility for a nation changes the perception of the policymaker.
Kadima represents a continuity in a possible historical "settlement" that can bring an end to a senseless conflict. Recent polls indicate that Ehud Olmert is the person best positioned to rally support for Sharon's plan of disengagement. The US, being an honest broker, has no agenda other than a comprehensive settlement between Palestinians and Israelis.
Sir, - Surely interviewing four people and then characterizing their opinions as representative of "Tel Aviv residents" is misleading, not to say dishonest? ("Tel Aviv residents want 'Gaza-type pullout' from Hebron," January 17). Were I to devote the time, I could easily identify 100 times that number of interviewees who would express a diametrically opposite opinion, which I could then headline "TA residents insist that Israel fight for its rights in Hebron."
Let's keep reporting and persuasion (opinion) on separate keels.
Sir, - Talya Halkin's report brings to mind an incident from the early 1980s, when I was administrator in a Galilee boarding school. I happened to mention to the cook, who had made aliya from Morocco in the 1950s, that I had a friend in England who was also from Morocco.
"Where was he from?" she asked. "From Casablanca." With a look of disdain, she retorted: "He is not from Morocco; he is from Casablanca."
...of other Jews
Sir, - The ease with which those Tel Avivians quoted by Talya Halkin - a very biased sampling - denigrated the Jews who are clinging to our rights to Hebron provided a sad reflection of these Jews' sense of history and responsibility for the concerns of Jews everywhere.
If we are appalled by the violence of the residents, we should fight to have their case of land ownership and expropriation in Hebron brought to the courts. That is the way Jews look after the rights of Jews, even of those with whom they disagree.
If we believe that the "settlers" have "taken over Palestinian property and won't let the Palestinians make a living," we should reread the history of Hebron's thriving Jewish community, overrun and massacred by Arabs in recent history.
Let us not accept the Arab revision of history and denial that the Jews have any claim to any part of this land. Every inch of it was fought for by "extremists" who put their lives on the line to make this country a reality - and, by the way, the reality of Jewish Tel Aviv is just as unacceptable to the majority of Arabs as the Jewish presence in Hebron.
Setting an example
Sir, - I was wondering why this country is falling apart and your article "'Irreligious' Beit Shemesh haredi family told to move" (January 17) answered my question. If this is how Jews behave toward other Jews, why should we be surprised when our enemies treat us badly?
Speak out and squelch those lies
Sir, - As the Iranians start their conference to prove there was never a Holocaust, six world figures could speak out and squelch the bizarre claims that will certainly emanate from it by initiating a major campaign to lay to rest the canards (1) that the Holocaust did not occur and (2) that we Jews are foreigners in this land.
â€¢German chancellor: Six million Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis.
â€¢Italian prime minister: In the middle of Rome the Arch of Titus commemorates the sacking of Jerusalem and the dispersal of Jews from it 2,000 years ago.
â€¢the pope: Jesus was a Jew who lived, together with many other Jews, in what is today Israel.
â€¢UN secretary-general: The 1947 UN plan partitioned Palestine into Jewish and Arab states but the Arabs rejected the option of an independent state here at the same time as Israel was formed.
â€¢Russian president: There is no factual foundation to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The book is a fabrication.
â€¢any Muslim scholar: It is clear from the Koran that the Jews populated the Middle East at the time of Muhammad.
These facts are core to Western civilization, and their denial is a foundation of anti-Semitism.
If such an absurd conference can be called, world leaders need to counter, jointly and in the strongest possible factual terms, anti-Semitism's core falsehoods ("Iran to convene Holocaust-denial conference," January 12).
STEPHEN J. KOHN
Sir, - Thank you for the thought-provoking "Too few conversions" (Editorial, January 12) on the paucity of conversions in Israel. However, I would like to take issue with the implication that there is nothing wrong with non-Jews becoming citizens of Israel. It may not be politically correct to make this point, but it must be said: Jews did not yearn for 2,000 years for a return to Zion, nor did thousands die in order to build and ensure the safety of the state for any reason other than for it to be a strongly Jewish country. And the strength of Jewishness of the state is highly dependent on a strong majority being and identifying as Jews.
We already have a million Arab citizens who habitually elect traitors as their representatives to our Knesset - quite enough for a Jewish state to contend with, without having hundreds of thousands of Russians who have absolutely no interest in maintaining Israel's Jewish essence. Even apart from those who are not halachically Jewish, there are those who do not consider themselves Jewish in any way. The reason for the low conversion rate among Russians is not governmental lack of interest or incompetence, but those Russians' total lack of interest in Judaism.
It may have seemed like a noble idea at the time, but 60 years on there is something perverse about having Hitler decide for us a principle as important for the future of the Jewish people as the Jewishness of the Jewish state. The Law of Return should be changed without delay, and the difficulty of coming up with an acceptable alternative criterion should not serve as an excuse for not resolving to do so.
Sir, - You seem to view conversion as a tool for social integration rather than as a serious religious act. But surely its essence is a genuine commitment to becoming a Jew by agreeing to accept the yoke of the Torah?
James Turner, where are you?
Sir, - The Scott family, from Dunfermline, Scotland, have lost touch with their son, cousin and nephew, James Turner. There have been a number of family events during the past few years that he should be informed of. His grandmother has died, his mother is retired and lives all on her own, and his cousin, suffering from MS, is not expected to live much longer. We would all dearly love to hear from him.
James was 45 in May this year. He married Delit, a Russian Jew, in Dunfermline on August 17, 1989 and made a new life for himself and his family in Israel. He now has at least two children, Jasmine, 16, and Dana, 11. Their last known address was 131/9 Rehov Malchi, Kiryat Gat.
I would be truly grateful if anyone with information about James would contact me, his uncle. Email: ; tel: 44-01827-73400. Or write to 25 Henley Close, Perrycrofts, Tamworth, Staffordshire B79 8TQ, England.
Tamworth, Staffordshire, UK
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